Monday, May 7, 2007

Ten Ways in Ten Days

This business of changing the world is overwhelming. Every day, I receive a new magazine to read, updates from the charities I support, and my stack of books and newspapers is almost tall enough to use as a measuring stick for my sixth grade students. In short, (pun unintended), I’m a bit overwhelmed myself, and this is my job.

But the good news in this confluence of good intentions, fluctuating priorities and time shortage is that we have already taken the first step – we care. I wouldn’t have created this website, and you wouldn’t be reading my blog if that were not the case. You probably also wouldn’t be reading the weekly way, if you were not looking for some advice. So here it is -

Just start. Take an action or two every day. Once these actions become second nature, you will find yourself looking for more ways to change the world. Visit the website and the blog often for more ideas. I will try to be both creative and practical with my suggestions.

The practical side of me says that it is important to suggest ideas that offer at least some immediate results. In order to kick off the website and welcome you to this new community, I have put together a list called Ten Ways in Ten Days, with a way inspired by each chapter of the book. Try a few or all of them out – let me know how it goes!

1. Register to Vote – This is the first step to getting involved politically and having your voice heard. If you have already registered to vote, then make sure you vote in all of the elections; even the local ones make a difference.

2. Watch a Movie – Well, more specifically a documentary or feature film about an issue or cause you are interested in. This is a great way to get educated. Perhaps the movie will inspire you to take further action. The most famous film of late that has spurred millions to action is An Inconvenient Truth, but some other films worthy of viewing are Who Killed the Electric Car?, Hotel Rwanda, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, Bowling for Columbine, The Ground Truth, or Super Size Me. They each offer information about issues worth getting involved in, and each movie offers suggestions for fixing the problems addressed.

3. Sign the One Declaration – which is “an historic pact for compassion and justice to help the poorest people of the world overcome AIDS and extreme poverty.”

4. Unplug – Every appliance that we leave plugged in while it is not in use continues to draw electricity. Unplug any appliances in your apt./house that are not in use.

5. Find Something New to Recycle – We all know about recycling aluminum cans, plastic, and glass. But you can also recycle printer cartridges, cell phones (most or all of the components), batteries, and plastic bags. Many grocery stores including Whole Foods offer plastic bag recycling receptacles. If you are ready to stop using plastic bags once and for all, good for you – bring your own reusable bags. Check out

6. Give a Green Gift – With many occasions to celebrate in the spring, including Mother’s Day and graduations, you are sure to need a gift for someone. Give a gift from an environmentally responsible source; it is a great way to raise awareness and give a wonderful gift. Check out,,,, or

7. Buy Local, Sustainably Grown Food – check out to find farmers' markets, CSA's, grocery stores, co-ops, and restaurants that supply and use local and organic products.

8. Become Carbon Neutral – Check out or and use their emissions calculator to first determine your carbon footprint and then learn how to offset it.

9. Check Out the Website – especially the Businesses Making a Difference and the Organizations Making a Difference pages. Try one of the products or join one of the organizations listed.

10. Throw a Party with a Purpose – When you have decided on an organization or cause you would like to support, invite your friends over for a party. Provide some information about the cause and ask them to bring a small donation rather than the usual host/hostess gift.


Andrew said...

Hooray! glad to see that the blog is off and running. . . I saw the recommendation about unplugging all appliances. . . I was under the impression that the only appliances that draw power are ones with:

a) a clock or other light that turns on
b) have a recharging transformer
c) have an "instant on" switch regulated by a capacitor such as a TV

As far as I know there is no need to unplug the washing machine, toaster, printer, etc. . . when not in use?

Anyone else out there able to confirm or educate?


Ben said...

Hey Andrew,

I'm not sure of the answer there either, but if you want to find out for yourself, you can pick up this neat thing called a Watt Minder which can tell you how much various things are pulling when they're plugged in.